Why you should learn to speak your child's language, and not the other way around.
I find myself constantly talking about communication in my office. I always ask, "what is your tone of voice?" "What is your body language saying?" "How are you delivering your message?" "What is your child trying to say through his behavior?" "What are you trying to say through your behavior?" There is a constant discussion about communication.
Yet in my own life, I continue to make some of the same mistakes over and over. I told my husband the other day, "I think that when you speak, I am hearing Spanish. Then, when I speak, I think you are hearing German." When we see others struggling to understand our point, we then repeat our words over and over. But, it never works and we get frustrated. It is important to note that Scott and I have been married for 13 years and the times we speak different languages only occurs a few times.
So, how does that apply to children, families and other relationships? Imagine trying to communicate with someone who speaks a totally different language. Perhaps, a foster parent who is raising a foster child, a stepparent learning how to raise a stepchild or a recovering drug addicted parent now parenting their teenage daughter through the eyes of recovery.
What are our choices? Do we continue to say the same thing over and over, hoping that the other person will understand our language? Do we learn to speak their language? Perhaps, we are speaking a language of love and the child is speaking a language of fear.
I think the best solution is for the adult to learn a different language. The parent must learn how to connect with the foster child. The parent must learn how to view the world through the eyes of their child, who is struggling with trust, connection, attachment and love issues.
It is the parent's responsibility to shift, not the child's. The child cannot do it. Seek an interpreter if you must. Let people help you understand your child's journey.
The next time you are caught in the miscommunication loop with your child, think about what language you are speaking and learn to speak in the language of your child.